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Sep 01 2013

No More War, Please.

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Obama has authorized the use of military force to punish Syria for a chemical weapons attack that killed more than a thousand people. Protracted and expensive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have left Americans reluctant to get involved in Middle Eastern conflicts. A poll showed that 80% Americans do not want the US to intervene in Syria. But Obama, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, wants war. He doesn’t mind if hundreds of thousands of people get killed because of his WMD, weapons of mass destruction.

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  1. 1
    Ken Curtis

    You said:

    “But Obama, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, wants war. He doesn’t mind if hundreds of thousands of people get killed because of his WMD, weapons of mass destruction.”

    I say:

    What ‘hundreds of thousands of people’ might you be referring to…? And which weapons of mass destruction will he be using to kill these alledged hundreds of thousands of people…? If you had listened carefully to what he said you’d have heard him say that any military response would be short in duration and surgically target military targets to disrupt or try to prevent any future use of chemical weapons, and not force a regime change.

    You seem to be an educated woman – but you should check your facts before making a comment that is inaccurate and not based on facts.

    I am an American as well and do not wish for the US to become involved in the Syrian civil war, but like the President, I believe that a message must be delivered to Assad swiftly that his actions with chemical weapons are not ever going to go un-noticed or unpunished, or he’ll feel that he can continue to slaughter his own people this way with no consequences…

    1. 1.1
      Albert Bakker

      Let’s gloss over the fact that the UN investigation isn’t completed yet and the US says it has evidence, but somehow can’t produce it and we have to use our ‘common sense’ instead according to Kerry.

      It is as you correctly stated a civil war. The Syrian population is divided against itself. And not only the Syrians, this has all the potential and more to spread out like a wildfire in the region. When the US interferes and carries out some half-baked retaliatory strike against Assad it will not accomplish anything but kill maybe tens to hundreds of Syrians, depending on where the chosen targets are located. Presumably they want to strike some known depots or something.

      But it might accomplish Obama’s saving face from his political blunder to draw red lines arbitrarily. If the objective is limited strictly to that end and Obama estimates his political credibility is worth the lives of some number of Syrians he could probably avoid any negative publicity by using the old ‘human shield’ canard, in case the ‘collateral damage’ is worse than premeditated.

      But if Assad will respond any other way than by obliging Obama, by escalating or maybe carry out some retaliatory strikes by himself on lets say Israel for example, it will become very unlikely or rather impossible for the Americans to not be sucked in the conflict and then by implication the Americans will see themselves in the situation to have to fight (once more) on the side of jihadists and, irony of ironies, even ally themselves with al Qaida, who by the way are armed and financed by the most trustworthy American allies in the region such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the like.

      Personally I don’t think Assad will do anything desperate until he’s pushed with his back against the wall and that seems not to be the case. Maybe it would be wise for the Americans to not be the catalyst to suck the whole region – including Israel – into a hopeless war without end. Or maybe even worse than that. It is fucking dangerous!

    2. 1.2
      seraphymcrash

      Really Ken?

      Because we have a wonderful track record on “short duration” and “surgical strikes”. How many lies and half truths are we going to accept when our government starts talking war in the middle east?

  2. 2
  3. 3
    didgen

    I say that we have no basis to say it’s ok if he kills them in approved fashion, but absolutely not if he kills them in another. They are dead just the same. We do not have a good record of short duration, or surgical targeting, perhaps we should not intervene without a good plan, which at this point we do not have.

    1. 3.1
      Albert Bakker

      Not having a plan seems to be the most consistent element in US strategical thinking. Maybe they sharpest minds in highest US political echelons have deemed it the safest way to not allow the enemy to find out and be a step in advance.

  4. 4
    Great American Satan

    And Ken Curtis thinks “surgical strikes” work outside of Steven Seagal movies, though he seems to be an educated man…

  5. 5
    Gunnar Gällmo

    Obama’s Nobel speech some years ago was a masterpiece of hypocrisy; I wrote an articla about it: http://gunnargallmo.hubpages.com/hub/War-is-Peace

  6. 6
    colnago80

    The problem here is that, last Spring, Obama shot off his big mouth by calling use of chemical weapons a red line. Well, it has happened, apparently, and it is now put up or shut up time. I have to agree that firing a dozen or two cruise missiles is a stick in the wind as far as influencing the Assad kleptocracy.

    However, the US and Israel cannot evade their responsibility for the situation in Syria. They tacitly supported Assad pere and Assad fils for 40 years because they kept things quite on the Golan Highths. When Assad pere killed upwards of 20,000 people in Hama in 1982 (dubbed Hama Rules by New York Times correspondent Tom Friedman), neither of them said boo.

    The unfortunate fact is that we are now faced with alternatives, all of which are bad. Doing nothing is bad, intervening is bad. It seems to this non-expert observer that the only strategy that makes any sense is to cash in Assad’s and his minion’s chips, if we can ascertain where they will be hiding. Perhaps removing the Assad regime from power will bring the remaining warring factions to their senses to arrive at a settlement before the country is completely destroyed.

  7. 7
    left0ver1under

    The ones who pull Obama’s puppet strings and make him talk are the war profiteers holding the purse strings that will profit the most financially from more wars.

    The coming occupation of Syria (which will happen) is yet another war for oil and water. Whether Israel participates militarily remains to be seen, but they will definitely be participating logistically, and giving the US permission to entry Syria through Israel, on land or by air. Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006 in part to steal water resources, and two of Syria’s biggest water sources border Lebanon and Jordan’s northern border.

    Through Syria, it is only 350 kilometres from the largest Iraqi oil field to Israel’s northern border. An oil pipeline across Syria and Israel would lead to the Mediterranean Sea. That’s 2000 kilometres less than the route currently used by oil tankers from Iraqi ports, a much safer route than the one through the Persian Gulf, past Iran, past Somalia, and through the Suez Canal. The US is building a trans-Afghanistan pipeline, why be shocked if the US starts building a trans-Syria pipeline?

    The “Peters Map”, produced by Ralph Peters in 2008 (and only revealed to the world by Wikileaks), shows US and NATO ambitions across the Middle East – redrawn borders, “regime change”, elimination of states, and eliminations of certain peoples (e.g. the Lebanese, the Palestinians, etc.). If Lebanon no longer exists, that’s one less country in the way of an easy oil route to the Mediterranean.

    http://natooperations.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/new-b1.jpg

    http://natooperations.wordpress.com/about/

    For those who forget or didn’t know, Peters is the scumbag who (on Fox Nuisance) openly called for the assassination of Julian Assange, long before the rape accusation was ever made.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Peters

    After securing a safe route for extracting oil (and a cheap supply of oil and water for the US’s favourite client state), you can be certain there will be even more “intervention” in the Middle East.

    1. 7.1
      Albert Bakker

      If your theory involves denying Obama agency in order to save him from bearing responsibility for his own actions, your theory suffers from a high probability to be complete and utter bollocks.

  8. 8
    lorn

    To understand how nations deal with this you have to understand that military strategists, ignoring both public sentiment and politics, don’t really see WMDs as any different than other weapons. This is particularly true of chemical weapons. They aren’t anything special. They are just another weapon with strengths and weaknesses.

    Go back to WWI and interspersed with lurid accounts, most of the worse being propaganda specifically designed to build outage over the used of chemical weapons by the “Hun”, you find observers, people who were present when they were used and who saw the results, reporting how chemical weapons were so much more “humane” than other weapons. It sounds odd until you picture the outcome of the other weapons of the day, flamethrowers, mines and saturation bombardment. In WW1 if you lived through the initial damage, didn’t bleed to death, didn’t suffer a long slow and painful death by infection (there were no antibiotics), you could look forward to a promising life as an invalid. Against that backdrop suffocating to death didn’t seem so bad. One commentator called it a “peaceful” death.

    Even nuclear weapons are seen by engineers and strategists as just another form of explosive. Largely an obsolete form of explosives as delivery systems have become much more effective and accurate. The main need for nuclear weapons was to compensate for the inability to localize what it is you want to destroy and accurately hit it.

    Even area attack shifted toward using many more smaller nuclear weapons in the 80s because they are more efficient at spreading damage evenly when they land in a modified grid than one big bomb. In the 90s it was proposed that outside radiation effects all the damage of a nuclear strike could be accomplished with conventional explosives. That is where things are going. This is also why military strategists are realistically considering the practicality of eliminating nuclear weapons entirely.

    Of course, the public doesn’t understand any of this. People are raised in a culture where WMDs are dark magic of near infinite power. Chemical weapons use is extraordinarily monstrous, as if there were a good way to die, and nuclear weapons are too destructive to even contemplate.

    Well informed politicians are forced to play a double game. On on hand they must act as if WMDs were a particularly malevolent form of evil while, a the same time, basing their military strategy on the fact that they are not any more monstrous than many other ways of visiting death upon an opponent.. The fire bombing of Tokyo killed roughly the same number as Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined but we picture the later two as so much more horrible. Yes, there is the radiation and the genetic damage echoing through generations but this isn’t different in kind than other genetic legacies. There were genetic consequences to the starving of the Dutch in WW2 and the consequences of depleted uranium and Agent Orange are not fully understood.

    Strategically Obama, and just about everyone else not directly involved, is best served by letting both sides of the Syrian conflict kill each other. Any sound military thinker knows that Assad’s use of chemical weapons is militarily unimportant but politically provocative. He could have killed as many, far more horribly, with conventional arms. Chemical weapons have an advantage against entrenched foes and in built up areas because the chemicals tend to be slightly heavier than air and to settle into trenches, bunkers, and disperse more slowly in those areas the people will tend to seek cover in. Once it is publicly shown they are used everyone is going to be pushed to “do something”. Even if there is no practical and effective response that will serve the best interests of anyone not enmeshed in the conflict already.

    Obama punting the decision to the congress means that the can gets kicked down the road. At least a couple of weeks. It may even put any strikes on hold indefinitely as the congress inevitable blanches at the though of accepting some responsibility for any action.

    In the mean time the Syrian meat grinder will be taking in money, arms and people in one end and delivering poverty, destruction, and suffering out the other. As horrible as that may be it is likely the best possible outcome in the short term. When the supply of people willing to jump into the grinder diminishes we can start to talk about a political settlement and structuring a peace to meet the population’s material needs and political aspirations. Until that fine day the conflict will be absorbing a small part of the excess supply of weapons, ammunition, religious fanatics and money in the hands of zealots.

    1. 8.1
      Albert Bakker

      A sober and chillingly realistic assessment, much appreciated.

  9. 9
    intergalacticmedium

    For reference do people here think Libyan intervention was a mistake? It looked to me like an example of a moral intervention which managed to avoid a drawn out and bloody insurgency whilst protecting a large number of civilians and causing very low collateral. I am leaning towards intervention as the rebels control around 60% of the land and 40% of the population zones much as the rebels in Libya held large amounts of territory indicating large amounts of popular support considering they are fighting against a powerful modern army.

    I feel intervention should at least be strongly considered.

    1. 9.1
      Albert Bakker

      Yes, that is probably going to be one of the talking points in the coming campaign (unleashed upon the circa 91% of Americans who oppose the – according to long time war correspondent Robert Fisk would amount to the “stupidest Western war in the history of the modern world”) Before long hordes of Americans will run in panic stricken fear to the stores buying duct tape, gas-masks and atropine. As long as we don’t bother to look at Libya now, a failed state where mercenaries and criminal scum rule the country and force Libyans to hide for their lives while the country is spiraling off a cliff into a hell of islamism and random violence. Which is a thing that will bite us in the ass eventually no matter how successful we are to keep the chaos out of sight.

      But Syria is in no way comparable to Libya, the geography and demographics are about as far removed from each other as possible, the Gadaffi regime depended on mercenaries and an amateurish army of sorts which is again completely opposite from Syria that has very much a professional army and where the (jihadist/ al Qaida) mercenaries are with the rebels, who seems to be more concerned with killing everyone not adhering to their particular brand of sunni hyper-fundamentalism. These are the fine folks who proudly present their achievements on YouTube like extremely sadistic decapitations (those were actually Belgian recruits) or cannibalism and such. Wonderful folk, who hold great promise for the future I’m sure.

      The Assad regime who, despite the adopted narrative in our newspapers of record, is supported by a substantial part of the Syrian population and is not isolated as was de Gadaffi regime. The real problem and the cause of the sudden urgency is that he is on the winning hand. In any case I don’t think Obama will or could be stopped in his determination to make an even bigger ass of himself than Bush the Lesser managed to do.

      1. colnago80

        Syria has a professional army all right but, because most of the recruits are Sunni Muslims, has at best, indifferent morale. In fact, Assad was losing until the intervention of thousands of Hizbollah terrorists who are strongly motivated because they are Shiite Muslims. This is in addition to Iranian support, although it is not clear that there are significant numbers of Iranian troops on the ground. Without the support of Iran and Hizbollah, Assad probably would have already lost the war.

        There are secular elements in the opposition but, unfortunately, much of the fighting is now being done by Al Qaeda terrorists and other extreme Sunni Islamists One of the reasons for the reluctance of the US to provide arms to the rebels is that we can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys.

        The support that the regime has amongst the population consists mostly of Alawites, who are an offshoot of Shiite Islam and some other minorities. However, the nation is some 75% Sunni most of whom don’t support the regime.

        The support of Iran and Hizbollah for the Assad kleptocracy is another reason why the US is temped to get involved, using the alleged chemical weapons attack as an excuse. If the Assad regime prevails, it will be a victory for Iran and a signal to the rest of the Middle East that it is on the ascendancy and the West is in retreat.

        Another interested onlooker here is Bibi Netanyahu who, if the US does not show resolve,, will come under extreme pressure from the right wingers in his country to attack Iran’s nuclear weapons sites, probably with submarine based cruise missiles with nuclear warheads.

        1. Albert Bakker

          You are right that Hezbollah fights on the side of Assad, so do the (sunni or secular) Kurds by the way and Syrian Christians. But that argument is moot because nobody is suggesting the US should intervene on behalf of Assad, the argument to be made is whether the US should intervene on behalf of al Qaida.

          I do want to commend you though for the honest point that this is actually about fighting Iranian influence in the region and not about Syrians being gassed by the Assad regime. If the UN investigation would find that those people were gassed by the rebel forces (the UN gathered testimony from Syrian casualties that the rebel forces have used sarin nerve gas before earlier this year) then everybody would forget all about the victims almost instantly as the leader of the Syrian Kurdish PYD party aptly remarked.

          So having established that the gas attack is being used as cynical ploy to foster an excuse in the public arena to become militarily involved in Syria to fight Iran (which suggests some clarification why Israel is abstaining from protesting anything other than not te be mentioned too much in US rethoric at the moment) and the Obama’s Iranian motive is already a bit of a public secret although you won’t find many analysts being too secretive about it.

          If only the plebs would understand, but they need emotion to persuade them and perhaps a lot of Hitler talk as Kerry seems to have concluded.

          And why by the way would the US let itself blackmailed into war by Israel that is apparently by your own assessment itself being blackmailed into war by their internal cancer, the rabid right wing? Is there nobody along the way up in the chain of command to use their minds and say wait a minute?

  10. 10
    John Garrett Jones

    News of unspeakable war crimes committed by the Assad regime in Syria in recent years compounds the anger most of us must surely be feeling at the inept way we try to resolve these situations.
    So long as nation states can get away with such atrocities – in this case largely because the only available alternative to Assad could turn out to be even worse – who could have much confidence in a viable future for the planet?
    We are all collectively responsible for the mess we are in. When we set up the UN in 1945-6 we acquiesced in the power of veto given to the permanent members of the security council. We were accepting that nation states were capable of running the planet for the common good whilst also accepting that national leaders were primarily elected to promote their own national interest, come what may.
    We were positively asking for trouble. Trouble was what we got – in huge, unbelievably costly heaps.
    It is totally inadequate to imagine that vast amounts of international aid will be an acceptable response to the Syrian nightmare. We have a global problem to deal with not just a local disaster. It cries out for a global response. We cannot go on sticking plaster on ‘regrettable’ wounds. We have to go to the root of the problem to prevent the wounds being inflicted.
    We also need to do some hard thinking about the traditional macho male stereotype. It has been fed into our genes over millennia of tribal warring but it is the last thing we need, especially now.
    If we care for this planet of ours, time is rapidly running out. Weapons of all descriptions are pouring off production lines every minute. The longer we drag our feet, the bigger the nightmare we confront ourselves with.
    This is no “alternative” issue; change will only happen if the overwhelming majority of the world’s people will it to happen.
    You can see what an important role the UN must play in bringing about a new world order – but a real one this time – if you go to the present author’s webpage. Ask for …..
    John Garrett Jones
    [You will find a brief biography and my email address at the links at bottom of my homepage. All feedback is very welcome]

  11. 11
    john garrett jones

    News of unspeakable war crimes committed by the Assad regime in Syria in recent years compounds the anger most of us must surely be feeling at the inept way we try to resolve these situations.
    So long as nation states can get away with such atrocities – in this case largely because the only available alternative to Assad might turn out to be even worse – who could have much confidence in a viable future for the planet?
    We are all collectively responsible for the mess we are in. When we set up the UN in 1945-6 we acquiesced in the power of veto given to the permanent members of the security council. We were accepting that nation states were capable of running the planet for the common good whilst also accepting that national leaders were primarily elected to promote their own national interest, come what may.
    We were positively asking for trouble. Trouble was what we got – in huge, unbelievably costly heaps.
    It is totally inadequate to imagine that vast amounts of international aid will be an acceptable response to the Syrian nightmare. We have a global problem to deal with not just a local disaster. It cries out for a global response. We cannot go on sticking plaster on ‘regrettable’ wounds. We have to go to the root of the problem to prevent the wounds being inflicted.
    We also need to do some hard thinking about the traditional macho male stereotype. It has been fed into our genes over millennia of tribal warring but it is the last thing we need, especially now.
    If we care for this planet of ours, time is rapidly running out. Weapons of all descriptions are pouring off production lines every minute. The longer we drag our feet, the more the problems we face escalate.
    This is no “alternative” issue; change will only happen if the overwhelming majority of the world’s people will it to happen; every individual can play a part in helping to make it happen. We have the UN but if the concept of “united nations” is to be more than a pious hope, the UN has to be instrumental in bringing about a new world order – but a real one this time.
    For a fuller statement, go to my webpage. Ask your browser for …..
    John Garrett Jones
    [You will find a brief biography and my email address at the links at bottom of my homepage. All feedback is very welcome]

  1. 12
    No More War, Please. | EveryDayNewsScoop

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